Nice looking gun. Here is what IGC have on GE Lewis:
Name G E Lewis
Other Names George E Lewis & Sons
Address1 Bath Street
Address2 32-33 Lower Loveday Street
Trade Gun engraver; gun & rifle maker
Other Address Duke Street, Manchester Square, Paddington, St Marylebone, London; 172 Strand, London
George Edward Lewis was born in Birmingham (possibly in Mosley Street) on 23 January 1829. He was the son of John Lewis, a brick manufacturer, and Elizabeth Lewis. He was apprenticed in the gun trade, and established his business in 1850 in Bath Street, Birmingham. Reportedly, he had studied art while completing his apprenticeship, and started his business as a gun engraver. This may well be partly true, but within a year or so he described himself in the 1851 census as a gun finisher employing 5 men. At that time, he lived with his parents in Great Ring Street.
In 1859 the business was described as gun and rifle makers and reportedly, they built a very large new factory at 32-33 Lower Loveday Street. If they did indeed build the factory, this would have been a remarkable achievement after only 9 years trading; it is more likely that space in the factory was leased, enlarged over time and, perhaps, bought by the firm at a later date. Perhaps George's father, being a brick maker, had contacts in the property development business. In 1862 the firm exhibited their guns in London.
On 25 August 1863 G E Lewis together with Henry Walker and Joseph Blout Wayne patented a drop-down breech loader (No. 2100) which had two plugs in the breech face which entered sockets in the sides of the chambers by movement of a side lever. The patent seems to be a variation of the Dougall "Lockfast" breechloader, it was Lewis's only patent and very few were made. In 1867 the firm exhibited in Paris.
Initially, the firm had been trade manufacturers who also did repair work, re-barreling etc., but they were typical of the major Birmingham manufacturers. They exported guns to the Confederate army in the US Civil War (1861-1865) in return for cotton, and after the war developed export markets in the USA, India and Australia. They built military rifles for the French during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).
In 1871 the firm began to sell direct to the public as well as to the trade. They exhibited in Vienna in 1873, and in Paris in 1878 where they introduced their "Gun of the Period", a registered trade name for a high quality gun made in hammer and hammerless versions (their other famous trade name for a model was the "Ariel", a 12 bore weighed under 6lbs). At some time G E Lewis introduced a type of recess choke boring, and over a period of time he popularised magnum small bores (12 and 20 bores with 2 3/4 inch chambers).
From about 1873 the firm had two showrooms in London, one at Duke Street, Manchester Square, Paddington, St Marylebone, and another at 172 Strand. It is believed these premises closed in about 1905. The firm exhibited in Sydney in 1879/80, Melbourne in 1880/81, and Calcutta in 1884.
A son, also named George Edward Lewis, was born in 1863, and another, Ernest Charles Lewis, was born in 1865. In the 1901 census G E Lewis was recorded as a widower aged 72 living with G E Lewis (II) and E C Lewis, and three of his daughters, at 2 Cambridge Crescent, Edgbaston.
In 1909 the name of the firm changed to George E Lewis & Sons.
G E Lewis (I)died on 17 January 1917, and the sons inherited the firm. G E Lewis (II) handled the day to day management of the firm, E C Lewis was involved in production and, because he was an excellent shot, was responsible for the regulation the firm's rifles. E C Lewis won the Birmingham Rifle Club Championship six times and the Gunmakers Association Challenge Cup five years running.
In the very late 1930s two of E C Lewis' sons joined the firm, G E Lewis (III) who in 1951 became a guardian of the Birmingham Proof House, and E V Lewis. When G E Lewis (III) died in 1988, the business was sold to John Harris who was a friend of G E Lewis (III) and stocked guns for the firm. In 1989 John Harris moved the firm to Unit SF2, 63 Price Street. In 1996 it moved again, to Halesowen. In December 2003 the name, goodwill and records of G E Lewis were sold at auction in London to Grant Dempsey of Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, and in December 2009 they were sold by him at auction in London.
The records of the firm date from about 1871, they give descriptions, serial numbers and sales dates. There seem to be no earlier records. Internet Gun Club have some details od serial numbers and dates, further information may be available from the Royal Armouries, Armouries Drive, Leeds, Yorkshire LS10 1LT Tel: 0113 220 1832 or email email@example.com . Basic information can be obtained by phone or email, a scan of the relevant page in the records costs £10.
The firm sold Pegamoid cartridges under their own name, and also cartridges under the names "The Express", "The Keepers Cartridge and "The Premier".
In the 1920s the firm produced their "Ariel" model, a lightweight 12 bore with 28 inch barrels as standard, and now fairly rare (it was designed to compete with the Churchill XXV).